Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law-VC-RGB

Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law

Indigenous peoples and the law is a focus of the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland. Our work in the area includes research, a wide range of courses, contributions to local and international policy making on Indigenous rights, support for and sometimes expert evidence in cases on Māori and Indigenous rights, and collaboration with Māori, Pacific, UN and other international movements for the advancement of Indigenous rights domestically, in the Pacific and globally.


The Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law was launched in October 2017. It grew out of the Nin Tomas Indigenous Peoples and the Law Group which has been in existence since Nin's passing in 2014.

The Auckland Law School is a leading New Zealand law school in the area of Indigenous peoples and the law. Our work includes significant research, published the world over, an impressive array of courses, initiatives to promote student engagement in Indigenous issues, relationships with a number of domestic, Pacific and international organisations such as the United Nations, collaborations with other universities including the Universities of Arizona and Adelaide and leading international scholars that focus on Indigenous people's issues and training for judges on legal developments relevant to Māori and Indigenous peoples in advancing their rights legally.

Members of Te Tai Haruru, the Māori academic group, play a key role in developing and enhancing the Indigenous peoples and the law group together with our Pouawhina Māori and Te Rakau Ture, the Māori student association.


Dr Nin Tomas

Dr Nin Tomas
Dr Nin Tomas

The Nin Tomas Indigenous peoples and the law group has been established in honour of Dr Nin Tomas who passed in February 2014. Dr Nin Tomas was the first Māori person to earn a PhD in law and the Law School’s most senior Māori academic. Nin was a founding member of Te Tai Haruru, the Māori Academics Group, and led the Law School for many years in the development of initiatives in support of Te Ao Māori, Māori law students and Indigenous peoples’ rights globally.

Nin is a big loss to the Law School and we deeply miss her rigour, humour, intellect and support. 



Claire Charters United Nations
Associate Professor Claire Charters with the President of the General Assembly (centre), the Ambassadors of Finland and Ghana and Professor James Anaya (right).
  • In February 2018, the Centre will host a one-day symposium, centred on the recent judgement of the New Zealand Supreme Court in Wakatu v Attorney-General. It will involve Law School colleagues, along with national and international visitors.
  • Dr Claire Charters was awarded a 2017 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to investigate the ways Indigenous peoples' rights are constitutionally recognised throughout the world. Read more. Or hear Claire talking about her Fellowship Research.
  • Dr Andrew Erueti is leading the Waitangi Tribunal on abuse of Māori children in state care and has been in media promoting the care. Watch the video.
  • Professor David Williams and Associate Professor Claire Charters supported Wakatu Incorporation, led by former Te Tai Haruru member Kerensa Johnston, in Wakatu's successful argument in the Supreme Court that the Crown owns Māori fiduciary duties. Read more.
  • Associate Professor Amokura Kawharu provided expert evidence in the Waitangi Tribunal with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
  • Dr Claire Charters was appointed by the President of the United Nations General Assembly to assist him in facilitating negotiations on enhancing Indigenous peoples’ participation in the United Nations. Read more.
  • Dr Andrew Erueti successfully defended his PhD thesis on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Professor Jane Kelsey has been engaged in highlighting concerns with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement together with former student Moana Maniapoto: watch the video
Classroom setting


  • We have enjoyed hosting a number of international visitors including:
  • The Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in April 2016
  • Liz Medicine Crow, President/CEO of the First Alaskans Institute, a non-profit organization that undertakes policy research, develops Alaska Native youth leaders and communities, in February 2016
  • A group of Aboriginal law students from Adelaide in 2015
  • Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Professor S James Anaya in July 2015



Fleur Te Aho_preferred_200

Welcome to Fleur Te Aho

  • We in the Nin Tomas Group are thrilled to welcome Fleur Te Aho to Auckland Law, a brilliant new addition to our team. Fleur is Ngāti Mutunga ki Taranaki. Fleur’s research interests are in Indigenous legal issues, human rights law, criminal law, public international law and socio-legal issues. Fleur teaches in criminal law and has an especial interest in Indigenous peoples and the criminal justice system. Prior to joining Auckland Law School Fleur taught and researched at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra and practiced as a solicitor in Wellington. Click here for more information on Fleur Te Aho.


Contributors to the Indigenous peoples and the law group have published the world over on issues as diverse as Māori and criminal justice, the Waitangi Tribunal, tikanga Māori, the relationship between Māori and the Crown, early tax law and the Māori, constitutional law, and Indigenous peoples’ rights under international law.

Te Tai Haruru also publishes Te Tai Haruru: Journal of Māori Legal Writing.


Courses available

The Faculty of Law offers a Certificate of Indigenous Peoples and the Law – Nga Toki o Te Ture – to students who pass 40 points or more from elective courses with Indigenous content.

The Faculty of Law runs a number of courses in the specialist area of Indigenous peoples and the law. Electives include:

  • Comparative Indigenous Law Topics
  • Contemporary Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi Issues
  • International law and Indigenous peoples’ rights
  • Iwi corporate governance
  • Māori Land Law
  • Honours course in Comparative Indigenous Peoples and the Law
  • Tikanga Māori

The Law School trialed a new course on international law and Indigenous peoples with the Law Faculty, University of the South Pacific over the summer semester in 2015.

Masters-level courses include:

  • Waitangi Tribunal: Past, present and future (2016)
  • Indigenous peoples: law and policy (2015)

In addition, a number of courses include components of Māori-related legal issues, including:

  • Youth Justice
  • Law and Society
  •  Criminal Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Public Law

News and Events



Public lectures, conferences, seminars and events are regularly held for the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law.

Identifying Advocacy Opportunities for the Centre

Date Monday 18 December 2017
Time 2.30 - 5pm
Venue Room FUW, 1st Floor, Old Government House, Princes Street, AK

Please join us to consider what kinds of advocacy the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law could be involved in.

The session will begin with afternoon tea, followed by a short presentation on the three roles the Centre will carry out – research, teaching and advocacy. We will end the
session with drinks and light refreshments.


Student recruitment and engagement

The Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law is actively engaged in recruitment, representing the Law School in University open days and Careers Expos.

Te Rakau Ture visits secondary school and community groups on annual Haerenga to encourage Māori to consider tertiary education and in 2015 also visited the Māori inmates at Waikeria Prison.

Tracey Whare Indigenous Law Speakers Series

Student profile

Former LLM student Tracey Whare (Raukawa, Te Whānau a Apanui) combined her interest in Māori issues with law working for a Māori community law centre, in local government as a policy adviser on iwi issues and in private practice.

Tracey has been an Indigenous fellow at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva in 1998; secretariat of a global indigenous working group in preparation for a United Nations General Assembly meeting known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; a trustee of Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust, a charitable trust established in 2000 to carry out advocacy work and disseminate information to Māori about developments in indigenous peoples’ rights; and a member of the Monitoring Mechanism, a working group created to monitor the New Zealand Government’s implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.



Opportunities for students

The Law School increasingly offers unique opportunities for students to engage in international human rights work.  In 2014 and 2015 the Law School placed four students with the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on issues relating to Indigenous peoples. The Law School will offered the programme again in 2017.

The Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law also encourages students to apply for, and participate in international courses specialising in Indigenous peoples rights and United Nations fellowships for Indigenous persons.

The Law School entered into a collaborative arrangement with the University of Arizona Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program in 2016. Auckland students with an interest in Indigenous peoples’ law and policy are able to undertake study in Arizona as a result of the agreement.


Collaboration with domestic, Pacific and international movements for the advancement of Indigenous rights globally

The Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law engages with domestic and international institutions and universities, including providing research support to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, collaborating with the University of Adelaide to strengthen Indigenous student learning and teaching and research links and entering into an agreement for academic and student engagement, including exchanges, with the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona.


Academic staff

Academics engaged in the work of the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law include:

Members of Te Tai Haruru

Additional members

Pouāwhina Māori

Kathryn Arona2

Kathryn Arona

Kathryn has iwi affiliations with Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, and Ngāti Porou.

She graduated with her LLB (Auckland) in 2016. Her main areas of interest lie in Family Law, Relationship Property Law, and Youth Law, particularly in the realm of Te Kooti Rangatahi and the Pasifika Youth Courts.

As the Pouāwhina Māori at the faculty, Kathryn is committed to providing pastoral and academic support to all Māori students pursuing law. For prospective students, she can give advice about the entry requirements for LLB Part I, and LLB Part II which is a limited entry programme. Kathryn understands the sacrifice and commitment required to pursue a degree in law while trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance.


Teaching Fellows

Tracey Whare

Teaching Fellow Kai Whakaako
Tracey is currently enrolled in an LLM at Auckland. Prior to commencing postgraduate study, she was working for the Secretariat of the indigenous working group for the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Tracey whakapapas to  Ngati Raukawa and Te Whanau-a-Apanui.

Jayden Houghton

Teaching Fellow Kai Whakaako
Jayden Houghton is currently enrolled in an LLM at Auckland. He has a BA LLB(Hons) degree and was a Senior Scholar in 2016. Many of you will know Jayden as a legal Writing Instructor and as a tutor in a range of our courses. Jayden is of Ngati Maniapoto - Rereahu.

Dylan Asafo

Teaching Fellow Susuga Faiako
Dylan Asafo has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Auckland and is to enrol in an LLM at Auckland. He has been heavily involved in PILSA for the last four years. Dylan is of Samoan descent. Many of you will know him as the co-President of PILSA in 2016.

Lotu Fuli

Teaching Fellow Susuga Faiako
Lotu Fuli has an LLB(Hons) from the University of Auckland and has an extensive teaching background which includes tutoring for the Law Faculty. She is the Chairperson for the Otara Local Board and has recently been appointed as a Referee to the Disputes Tribunal, and will enrol in an LLM in the second semester this year. Lotu is of Samoan descent.